The intersection of critical accounting and critical geography holds great potential to aid our understanding of the world, and our interventions within it, at this tumultuous moment. Accounting helps define and perform the boundaries of places, both geographic and temporal, through the accounting operations of firms and political entities that constitute how we understand and experience space. Likewise, critical geographers argue for closer attention to accounting and finance as technologies of power. By emphasizing how these technologies are not ‘neutral’ but are crucial to the operation of power, both fields allow us to understand how financial calculations and their embedded accountability relationships have constitutive effects on society.
Ken McphailThe University of Manchester Alliance Manchester Business School, Manchester, United Kingdom
Special issue information:
This special issue brings together scholarship in the fields of critical accounting and critical geography. Research at the intersection of these fields holds great potential to aid our understanding of the contemporary political economic moment. As the influence of the finance sector has grown, critical geographers have paid close attention to how financial and accounting technologies represent the world and remake the spaces we occupy (Hall, 2012; Lai, 2022; Mawdsley, 2018; Pike & Pollard, 2010). This mirrors critical accounting’s attention to how calculative technologies constitute social reality and render everyday life governable (Miller, 2001; Miller & Rose, 1990).
The spatial dimensions of accounting technologies are underexplored in each discipline, but are of clear importance. As Andrew and Cahill (2017, p. 16) note, “geography makes certain forms of accounting possible,” because accounting is always enacted in particular places. At the same time, they argue, accounting helps define and perform the boundaries of places, through the accounting operations of firms and other legal and administrative entities that constitute our understanding of space. Likewise, critical geographers have argued for closer attention to accounting and finance as socio-spatial technologies of power rather than as taken-for-granted aspects of the economic system (Beswick & Penny, 2018; Kass, 2021). By emphasizing how accounting and finance are not ‘neutral’ technologies but crucial tools for the operation of power, both fields allow us to understand how financial calculations and their embedded accountability relationships have constitutive effects on the place of everyday life (Joseph, 2014; Karaagac, 2020; Langley, 2008; Miller, 2001; Miller & Rose, 1990).
This special issue is open to research in both accounting and geography that discusses the relationship between accounting technologies and the production of landscapes of inequality. In particular, the special issue seeks to highlight how spatially attuned accounting research can help reveal the constitutive role of financial interventions in producing uneven geographies that are classed, raced, and gendered (August, Cohen, & Rosenman, 2023; Ponder & Omstedt, 2022; Ranganathan, 2020). Critical examination of accounting technologies, which designate who benefits and who is left behind by financial interventions, is crucial to understanding the geographic impacts of business and policy decisions (Cohen & Rosenman, 2020).
Suggested topics for this special issue include, but are not limited to:
The financialization of the economy
Monetary policy and inequality
The creation and management of debt relations (e.g., student loans, microfinance)
Public finances and public sector accounting
International best practices and mobile policies in accounting
The valuation of environmental and social processes